Sarah Jessica Parker set the standard for what a celebuscent could be when she released Lovely in 2005. It was widely praised mainly because it was obvious she was directly involved as creative director. Lovely is arguably the best mainstream celebrity perfume ever. It has become a new classic of perfumery. With that foundation I was very curious to try Ms. Parker’s latest release SJP Stash.
In the press leading up to Stash’s release one of the more interesting pieces of information was Ms. Parker had designed Stash before Lovely. She would further elaborate that Coty who owned the rights to Ms. Parker’s brand thought Stash was not “commercial” enough. It has taken eleven years but Ms. Parker now has the freedom to releases Stash with her new deal with the beauty store chain ULTA. Stash is meant to be the first in an ongoing relationship with the store.
The perfumer Ms. Parker worked with has been undisclosed although they are from IFF. If the backstory is accurate it probably means it contains themes from the perfumers behind Lovely, Clement Gavarry and Laurent LeGuernec. With an assist from an IFF perfumer today I would imagine that is the perfume team behind Stash. After trying Stash I can definitely see how there was a vigorous discussion about whether it was commercial in 2005. Now in 2016 I think Stash has found a time period where it won’t stand out as much as a woody oriental. In fact, it could be that woody orientals have become so prevalent that it might have some trouble gaining traction.
Stash opens with a contrasting trio of grapefruit, black pepper, and sage. It is a lively opening but it feels common today. The heart ramps up the woods as cedar cleans up the spicy parts and co-opts patchouli as a running mate. Ms. Parker mentioned wanting a body odor accord and I think the cedar and patchouli are meant to be that. It is subtle to be sure and not as prominent as it would have been if they had used cumin. So if you have read the press releases and seen “body odor” don’t fret because this is the cleanest body odor you will run across. The base is the best part of Stash as a sweetly resinous mixture of olibanum, vetiver, sandalwood, and musk combine.
Stash has 6-8 hour longevity and moderate sillage.
As I’ve indicated above Stash is not groundbreaking or unusual in today’s mainstream market. In 2005 this would have blazed a similar trail as Lovely did. In 2016 it is following the trail not blazing it. Stash is more complex than much of what can be found at ULTA. If that consumer is enticed by Stash I think it has a chance to open those perfume wearers’ horizons. I can see how passionate Ms. Parker was to get Stash on the market but as the old adage says, “be careful what you wish for”.
Disclosure: This review was based on a sample from ULTA.
When it comes to celebrity fragrances there are few that make the grade. One of the most obvious reasons is the name on the bottle has little or nothing to do with it. Depending on the situation that can free a creative team to take chances but more often it leaves them to just knock off an imitation of something already on the market. The celebuscents which I admire have almost always had the celebrity intimately involved in the creative process. The first perfume to prove this principle to me was Sarah Jessica Parker Lovely. This was the debut perfume for Ms. Parker when she was at the heights of her Sex and the City fame. The whole process was covered in Chandler Burr’s book The Perfect Scent. What came across was a woman who wanted the perfume which carried her name to be something better than mediocre. It was and still is a successful perfume on the market. I think Lovely is a great perfume but I like the second perfume Ms. Parker collaborated on better; called Covet.
Covet came out two years after Lovely. The same creative director Ann Gottlieb was helping Ms. Parker and perfumer Frank Voelkl was picked to compose the perfume. Because of the success of Lovely I think the creative team felt they had a bit of leeway in trying something different with Covet. They would take that latitude and make something quite atypical for the state of the department store market circa 2007. Covet is like a mob of unruly kids all vying for the wearer’s attention. That amount of manic overly nuanced exposition wore most people out. I found it exhilarating. At the time it was the only thing in the mall that didn’t smell like everything else.
Time, and the consumer, has not been kind to Covet and it was discontinued about two years ago. Even though it has been discontinued it has been viewed as such a disappointment that you can find full bottles for less than $20 at almost any place that sells discount perfume. Which is why it is a Discount Diamond.
Covet opens on one of those unruly moments I mentioned. M. Voelkl takes lemon, lavender, geranium, a watery green leafy accord, and chocolate and turns them loose. It sounds like so many conflicting ideas it should just collapse. I’ll admit it comes close but I find this highly saturated opening fabulous. It never quite completely veers off course although I will admit it does drive on the wrong side of the road from time to time. This chaotic opening is what put many off because it is so weird, even eight years later it is still pretty weird. For the rest of the development Covet is relatively more straightforward as the heart is muguet and magnolia. The base is vetiver, woody notes and amber.
Covet has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.
Covet has been consigned to being the red-headed stepchild of Ms. Parker’s brand meant to be forgotten and unloved. If you are willing to take a chance on something great and for the price why wouldn’t you? Give Covet a try you might find something that is a real diamond in the rough.
Disclosure: This review is based on a bottle I purchased.